Skip to main content

H1Z1 Early Access refunds offered over pay-to-win accusations

Early Access players of Sony Online Entertainment's H1Z1 can request a refund if they like, according to the firm's John Smedley responding to community uproar that airdrops are pay-to-win.


While a self-refund option is not available through Steam as of press time, Smedley posted an email address on the game's subreddit which players could contact to ask for a refund with "no questions asked".

"If you feel like the airdrops are an issue for you, you may immediately request a refund to bwilcox[at] - this offer applies till Monday and it applies only to people that have purchased the game as of 10.30am PST January 16, 2015.

"Please note that this is going through us, not Steam. Which means it's a little more work so please be patient with the actual refund (it may take a day or two)."

It is possible to get a refund at present through Steam when looking through your store transactions; however, this won't refund the money to a credit card or through Paypal. Instead, the cash will be added to your Steam Wallet.

The ability to request a refund stemmed from Early Access players taking issue with airdrops. Earlier comments from SOE stated weapons would not be included as part drops which are a micro-transaction option. The developers didn't want the game to become "pay to win" by including weapons, food, or ammo.

"If you feel like the airdrops are an issue for you, you may immediately request a refund."- Smedley

Instead, the drops would contain randomly generated items such as backpacks, waist packs, and other loot. Early Access players found that items such as an AR-15 rifle and 90 rounds of ammunition were included in the drops, which led to both confusion and outcry within the community.

Last year, Smedley said SOE would not be selling ammo, food, guns or water in the free-to-play game as "that's kind of the whole game and it would suck in our opinion if we did that.”

SOE announced later in the year it would be selling airdrops which are basically care packages containing food and water, but airdrops such as these would occur in a "random location" which would be obvious to other players on the server; therefore, the player has to get to the airdrop quickly before it was bogarted by other players.

Airdrops are considered server events, and due to how the plane arrives, the entire server knows they're coming: it's very loud and has a green smoke trail behind it.

Players are unable to call in an airdrop unless the server is one quarter full, and along with contending with other players for the loot, the drop draws the attention of all zombies in the area.

"Think of it like buying surprises for people in the game that if you’re lucky you can try and get yourselves," Semdley said during SOE Live 2014. “Airdrops will provide survivors with ammunition, food, water, weapons and other supplies.”

Comments such as these led to understandable confusion on the matter, especially when senior game designer Adam Clegg stated the only way to acquire guns is to find them in the game world.

“There’s no way you can get ammo any other way. You can’t buy ammo. You can’t buy guns. You can’t get them out of a crate. There’s zero way. You have to find them in the world," he said.

The crates he mentioned are scattered around the game world and players can purchase keys with real money to open them.

“If you think it’s P2W don’t buy it. Don’t play it. But wait until you’ve personally tried them before making the call.” - Smedley

In summary, SOE basically decided at some point during development to include guns as random content in the airdrops - but they are still not available for purchase for real money in the game.

"If you think it's P2W don't buy it. Don't play it. But I have to say wait until you've personally tried them before making the call," Smedley stated on Reddit. "We included airdrops in both the $20 and the $40 versions just so you could see for yourselves.

"The airdrops are random in what they deliver [and] you are not guaranteed to get a single thing out of the airdrop you called in. You could die trying and you're out the money. We've called attention to it publicly and it's something we've decided we want in the game.

"It makes it more fun. It can shake things up. Please don't judge based on knee jerk reactions. Try it. Or watch more streams with people doing it."

H1Z1 is an Early Access game, so issues and content disagreements are to be expected. SOE has said numerous times the main reason it decided to go this route was to develop the game alongside the community. This will allow players to take part in the development process and let the team know what they like and don't like as things progress.

Airdrops can be considered one of the issues, and SOE has already responded to the feedback.

"We're going to be making some big changes to them in the next day or so," said Smedley. "[We're] widening the radius as airdrops come in - it's too small from what we're observing. [We'll] also make sure the chance for guns is a much lower chance so they are much more rare.

"The team is also upping the minimum number of people on a server to even allow air drops. It's set at 50 right now and we're going to at least double it. We are serious about these being server events and contested."

The planes delivering the airdrops will also come in much slower, according to the post.

"When I said you can't buy any guns or ammo, I completely disregarded the possibility of airdrops." - Clegg

In an effort to clear things up even further, Adam Clegg has since apologized for what he said in the aforementioned stream, stating he didn't mean to mislead players on how items are acquired in-game.

He said he didn't take airdrops into consideration when assuring those watching the stream that ammo and weapons weren't available for purchase.

"I wanted to address what I said in an earlier stream with NGTZombies: I said you cannot buy a gun or ammo and it had to be found in the world. When you are on a stream, and you are talking about your game, you tend to talk a million miles an hour both to keep the information flowing and to keep it entertaining. But sometimes things get said without completely thinking about what you are saying 100% through," he said on the H1Z1 Subreddit.

"H1Z1 is a massive game with a lot of systems, some of which we were tuning every day and finishing last minute. When I said you can't buy any guns or ammo, I completely disregarded the possibility of airdrops and meant that you can't buy a gun or ammo and have it go into your starting loadout, or your loadout immediately like you were buying a gun from the gun store.

"That being said, I totally understand how what I said was, at the time, lying to you guys and I apologize. But please understand that's not what I was trying to do. For those of you that don't know me or understand me, know that I'm not trying to be this monster that is conniving and lying in hopes that you get tricked into buying the game. I am very passionate about making video games and I want more than anything in the world for people to love the games that I am a part of making."

You can read up on the entire issue through the Reddit threads and the other links provided in this post.

For more information on what to expect in the Early Access game, you can read SOE's content description through here.

H1Z1 went into Early Access on January 15.

Thanks, GameFront.

Read this next